McBride and Knapper forming dynamic bench tandem for WVU

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — If you play how you practice, then it makes plenty of sense that guards Miles McBride and Brandon Knapper have been clicking while playing together in West Virginia’s past two games.

McBride and Knapper run with West Virginia’s second team in practice, and it’s clear that all that time together is building a solid chemistry that’s beginning to show itself against opponents.

Despite coming off the bench, the duo were West Virginia’s two leading scorers in Saturday’s 66-54 win over Texas Tech. McBride had a career- and game-high 22 points, while Knapper chipped in 10.

Together, they represented the bulk of West Virginia’s outrageous 41-15 edge over the Red Raiders in bench scoring.

“We’ve been competing together in practice every day. I feel me and Deuce are a great combo together,” Knapper said. “Hopefully we play more together in the season.”

McBride has been impressive for the bulk of his freshman season. It’s been a slower climb for the sophomore Knapper, but things are clearly beginning to click at the dawn of his second Big 12 season.

Averaging fewer than 10 minutes per game in non-conference play, Knapper played 14 minutes against Oklahoma State and chipped in eight points.

That performance earned the trust of Bob Huggins, who left Knapper on the floor for 25 minutes against Texas Tech.

“I couldn’t play Knap before because he turned it over a bunch,” Huggins said. “We had a heart-to-heart. I told him ‘You’ve got to do the right thing, or I can’t play ya.’

“He’s really worked hard at it. He’s really concentrated. He’s getting better and better and better.”

As West Virginia continues to struggle from three-point range, Knapper presents a potential antidote. He’s 3-for-8 behind the arc in the last four games.

“He shot the ball really well in practice. He’s been our best shooter in practice for the last two days,” Huggins said. “You play the best in practice, you ought to play. He played the best in practice.”

What makes the precise combination of McBride and Knapper so effective is that both are combo guards capable of scoring or running the offense as needed.

“He’s a great guard getting in the lane and penetrating and has a great pull-up game too,” McBride said. “Sometimes he likes when I bring it up because he knows he has a guy that can’t really guard him, and I’m the same way. We just kind of feed off each other.”

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